Tenancy deposit protection schemes ensure that when deposits are paid to landlords they’re kept safe, and when the tenancy comes to a close (provided there has been no breach of the lease), the tenant is able to reclaim his or her funds without dispute. Below is a selection of frequently asked questions about these schemes in the UK:
I’m signing a new lease: will my deposit be automatically protected?
In 2007, the government passed laws to protect tenants’ deposits provided they meet the terms of their lease agreements i.e. they don’t damage the property and pay their rent and bills on time. Landlords are required to place deposits in one of three tenancy deposit protection schemes within 30 days of receiving the funds.
To find out if your deposit is protected, you can visit the relevant scheme and enter your tenancy code or personal information (the deposit amount, your postcode, surname and tenancy start date). Bear in mind that your deposit may be protected under three schemes – mydeposits, The Deposit Protection Service or The Dispute Service – and provided you started your tenancy after April 6, 2007, you should be able to find your listing in one these databases.
My deposit is protected! What next?
According to research commissioned by Shelter (a housing and homelessness charity), as many as 57 per cent of tenants are not aware of deposit protection schemes, and with the average deposit in the UK now costing as much as £979, that’s a lot of money to risk. If you don’t receive your deposit back, you could be due compensation of one to three times the value of what you originally paid.
Do I have a right to expect deposit protection?
Check that you have an assured shorthold tenancy, which is a tenancy with limited long-term security that is not regulated by the usual rent controls. Your landlord must notify you that this is the type of lease you’re undertaking.
If you paid your deposit after April 6 2012 (or ongoing after April 6 2007) your landlord is legally required to protect your deposit within one of three government schemes within 30 days and give you an update of his having done so. When your tenancy ends, he must return your deposit within 10 days.
I’ve received less deposit than I paid at the beginning of my tenancy, why?
Landlords should not make deductions for normal wear and tear to their properties; however, they can make reasonable deductions that may include damages, missing items, cleaning and unpaid rent. Even if your landlord has valid reasons for keeping a portion of your deposit, he or she should return the remainder (request receipts or estimates for the items that have been deducted to ensure that the process has been fair).
For more information, read Shelter’s guide to tenancy protection schemes for assured shorthold tenancies; take care that this is for tenants living in England and Wales only.
Author: Zoopla.co.uk property news author Robin Stenson provides advice to new tenants on mandatory deposit protection schemes.